Last Updated on June 21, 2019 by Caitlin Frances Chan
It’s difficult to leave your family and friends to study for months abroad. There are ways to keep in touch, but nothing is as great as writing an old-fashioned handwritten letter. Sending letters from your destination back to the States really enriches your whole experience, in my opinion. Not only do you get to express your true feelings to your loved ones —because let’s face it, no one likes to admit they like other people — but you also can reflect on your travels and all the things you’ve learned. Being apart from the people you’re most comfortable with can help you appreciate them, flaws and all.
I’ve sent many letters since I came to Cannes, France, and all the people I’ve sent them to have been incredibly happy and grateful. It is rare to receive letters in the mail these days and it’s always a fun treat. I used to think that postcards were boring and unoriginal. Now, I understand that if you write a sincere, heartfelt message on the back of them, they are actually really cool, especially if sent in its origin country. I’ve gotten some really interesting postcards during my travels. I bought two from Italy that were you could break into puzzle pieces. It’s impossible to see what the message on the postcard says until the puzzle is completed. The person receiving the pieces may hate me, but I think it is hilarious. Another unique postcard I bought was one that looked similar to a painting; it was even surrounded by what resembled a frame. It was a souvenir as well as a letter.
It’s best to buy the postcards that are unique. If you are going to Rome or to Paris, it’s easy to find the cheesy Colosseum or Eiffel Tower postcards that everyone else buys just as often. I like to search for some made by local artists. If I can’t find any, I’ll try to find the most original I possibly can. There were so many places where I could find artistic pictures of the town and its local cats. Or there are also the ones that have a retro feel and are drawn rather than just printed photographs.
Sending letters and postcards is a little bit like journaling, except entries are sent to family and friends. You and your loved ones can understand together what you are learning and how you are growing as a more mature adult. People also like to know they are being thought of, and it is a joy to hold something that was held by the sender. Everybody wins.
This post was contributed by Caitlin Chan, who is studying abroad with AIFS in Cannes, France.